Archive for July 9, 2021

The end of the road. I made it. Suck it, doubters!

This is it. Unless I decide to post an epilogue, which I may do (spoiler warning: I probably will.)

If you have read this long, or just jumped in recently, or just stumbled across this one and are wondering who this dude is, I extend my gratitude. There’s a lot of personal stuff in here that may not interest you in the least, or I might have said something bad about a movie you like, and I most likely got some facts wrong about some of these movies, so I apologize for that. Basically, when you write a post a day for 30 days while life is going on, you don’t really tend to spend a lot of time on research.

I like the topic for this final post, because it’s not “A film with a number in it,” or “A film” that I liked the soundtrack more, or “A film” where the good guys blow up a ship to deactivate all the bad guy robots at the end. It’s a film with my favorite ending. This is definitive. Of all the movies I’ve seen, which ending do I like the best? I mean, they all have an ending. Which one is the best?

Sometimes, even good movies have not-so-great endings. I hate to beat the dead DC horse, but Wonder Woman was great until the end, when the big bad was revealed to be a pasty, old British dude, and then he and Wonder Woman have a pointless CGI fight that you have no doubt she is going to win. There is drama when Chris Pine sacrifices himself to destroy the evil gas canisters, I guess, but by that point, I was kind of checked out. The old dude as the god of War just took the wind out of my sails. There was really no reason for that twist other than to throw in a twist. I would rather it had been the original guy that she killed earlier.

So what film has my favorite ending? There are plenty of movies that, if I’m zipping through the Guide, I’ll watch stop and watch the end of it, just because it’s cool, but not always. Take The Untouchables, for example. The real part to watch is the gun fight in the train station, where Kevin Costner is trying to catch the baby carriage rolling down the stairs and not get killed. You don’t really need to see the actual end of the movie, where Al Capone is thrown in jail, because you’ve already seen the best part.

But enough about bad endings. Which ending is my favorite?  I love the ending of Jaws, as I wrote about on Day 7, but I obviously can’t go back to that well, and would I say it’s my favorite? I always liked the ending of Pulp Fiction, literally the final shot where Jules and Vincent stand at the door of the diner that has just been held up, look around for a second, simultaneously tuck their guns in their shorts, and walk out. That is a wonderful beat after all that you have seen happen in that move. But not my favorite ending.

I’m picking an ending that really wraps up everything that has taken place in the movie itself. It is one of my favorite movies, and I could have picked it for a film I never get tired of, but I saved it for the end because that’s where it deserves to be. Best for last.

The Shawshank Redemption

To be clear, I’m not talking about when Morgan Freeman finds the volcanic glass and the money and journeys to  Zihuatanejo. That’s a great moment that obviously had to be there, but it’s more of an add-on. The real climax, the greatest moment in this, and almost any other film, is when Warden Norton throws Andy Dufresne’s chess piece at the poster of Raquel Welch and it doesn’t bounce back, but instead goes through the giant hole that Andy had carved into his wall, the hole that he escaped through. He then broke open a sewer pipe and crawled through, “a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.”

The real kicker was that it wasn’t that he just escaped. That would have been cool enough, believe me. But Andy had been laundering money for the Warden, and so had created a false identity to use as a front. After escaping, Andy visited a dozen banks as this false man and withdrew almost $400,000 of the Warden’s money. And just to really kick him in the nuts after twenty years of torture, Andy mailed evidence of all the corruption and murders that went on at Shawshank, and the scumbags who ran the place went to jail. Except Warden Norton. He refused to go quietly, preferring instead to kill himself. In a film with so many great lines, my favorite one might be Morgan Freeman’s narration when it came to that:

Red:I’d like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him.   

As I said, this ending brings so many elements of the film to bear. 

  1. The fact that Andy is not only keeping the Warden’s finances clean, but he also is forced to keep his clothes and shoes clean, as the Warden asks him to bring his suit to the laundry and shine his shoes. Andy takes those with him when he leaves so he can look professional when he visits all those banks. 
  2. The fact that Andy had an interest in Geology, and asked Red to get him a rock hammer so he could carve chess pieces out of rocks. Of course, it was that rock hammer that he used to carve through his wall, and his knowledge of Geology that helped him realize it could be done.
  3. The fact that Andy hid his rock hammer inside a carved out Bible that the Warden had given him. And which chapter did he start his carving? Why, Exodus, of course. And on the night he made his escape and made off with Warden Norton’s money, he replaced the log book with that same Bible, leaving a note saying, “Warden, You were right. Salvation lay within.” Brilliant.

There’s so much more I could talk about with this movie, but you get it. There’s a lot of themes and a lot going on, but the central theme is hope. Geology didn’t just help Andy realize that the rock hammer could help him tunnel through his wall, it gave him hope that he could. Andy and Red talk about hope a few times, and Red cautions him that hope is “a dangerous thing.” Andy was a little more positive about it, but that’s probably because he had that rock hammer, and he knew one day, he would get out of there. Or at least, he hoped he would. 

In the end, in his note to Red, Andy tells him that “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Shawshank isn’t just a great movie with a cool ending. It’s a parable about having hope. Andy didn’t just resign himself to being in prison for the rest of his life. He got the prison a new library, he got a few inmates their high school degrees, he got himself a way to get some free money, and he got his rock hammer. And he got out of there. He did all that because he had hope. And it all paid off, literally.

Thanks again for reading all these. If you enjoyed my movie rants, let me know in the comments and check out my other stuff via this handy linktree thing I got going on. Tune in next time, folks. 

Keep on keepin’ on.